EMERGENCY: FMCSA Expands Nationwide H.O.S. Exemption for COVID-19 Relief Haulers

Washington D.C. – The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is expanding its national Emergency Declaration to provide hours-of-service (HOS) regulatory relief to commercial vehicle drivers transporting emergency relief in response to the nationwide coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

In making the announcement, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao said, “The nation’s truck drivers are on the front lines of this effort and are critical to America’s supply chain.”


FMCSA’s expanded Declaration will now provide for regulatory relief for commercial motor vehicle operations providing direct assistance supporting emergency relief efforts intended to meet immediate needs for:

  • Medical supplies and equipment related to the testing, diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19.
  • Supplies and equipment necessary for community safety, sanitation, and prevention of community transmission of COVID-19 such as masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, soap and disinfectants.
  • Food, paper products and other groceries for emergency restocking of distribution centers or stores.
  • Immediate precursor raw materials—such as paper, plastic or alcohol—that are required and to be used for the manufacture of essential items.
  • Fuel.
  • Equipment, supplies and persons necessary to establish and manage temporary housing, quarantine.
  • Persons designated by federal, state or local authorities for medical, isolation, or quarantine purposes.
  • Persons necessary to provide other medical or emergency services.


Additionally, the Agency noted its expanded declaration stipulates that “direct assistance” does NOT include routine commercial deliveries, including mixed loads with a “nominal quantity of qualifying emergency relief added to obtain the benefits of the emergency declaration.”

Further, the FMCSA once again stressed that once a driver has completed his or her delivery, the driver “must receive a minimum of 10 hours off duty if transporting property, and 8 hours if transporting passengers.”


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The FMCSA’s expanded Declaration comes only hours after the American Trucking Associations (ATA) sent a letter to President Trump advising “confusion and lack of clarity are causing delays and problems” for the trucking industry.

The National Association of Truckstop Operators also issued a plea on Tuesday to FMCSA Acting Administrator Jim Mullen to expand the HOS exemption to include the “transportation of fuel.”


The FMCSA issued its first historic 50-state Emergency Declaration late Friday evening, March 13, in response to President Trump declaring the COVID-19 pandemic a “national emergency” earlier that same day.

Stakeholders immediately began asking questions and seeking clarification and further guidance on multiple issues.

“Under Secretary Chao’s leadership, FMCSA is providing additional regulatory relief to our nation’s commercial drivers to get critically important medical supplies, food, and household goods to Americans in need, FMCSA Acting Administrator Jim Mullen said on Wednesday. “We will continue to support them and use our authority to protect the health and safety of the American people.”

Transportation Nation Network will continue to closely follow the issue.



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